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OTB #006: How These 6 Examples Can Improve Your Approach to Playing The Turn in Your Next Tournament

Updated: Jan 22

There are 49 different turn cards (47 if you discount the 2 cards in your hand).

Here's how I group them to learn turn strategies quicker:

1. Ace

2. Overcard

3. Flush completer

4. Straight completer

5. Pair

6. Blank

Today I’m going to walk you through each category with some hand examples to demonstrate why this is such an effective way to approach turn study.

CO vs BB single raised pot, 28.5bb effective

You start the hand with 28.55bb and raise from the CO to 2bb. Just the Big Blind calls.

The flop comes Js 3c 2s, the BB checks and you bet 25% pot. The BB calls.

The BB checks the turn and you have a decision to make - whatever the turn is will guide your strategy.

This is where understanding what the overarching strategy looks like will help.

If you know that this particular turn leads to you having a big bet and check strategy, then you can just work out whether your hand wants to bet big or check. There's no worrying about whether you can bet small because that isn't a size that gets used on that particular turn.

PIOSolver has a great feature that shows you what the strategy looks like on each turn card:

If you're anything like me, visualising strategies in 2 or 3 colours makes understanding what's going on a lot easier.

On most turn cards, you're going to bet big or check. Unless it's a spade, where you have a lot more small betting.

This is one of the benefits of running your own sims rather than using pre-solved browser based solutions. I like to keep things simple and just have a big bet or a small bet option on each street if possible. My big bet is the geometric sizing* and the small bet will be roughly half the big size so there's a clear distinction between the two sizes.

*Geometric sizing is the percentage of the pot to bet so that you would have exactly the same percentage of the pot left to jam on the river if your opponent calls on the turn.

1. Ace

The Ace is interesting because it could complete a straight (54) or a flush if it's the As.

Both players can have 54s, but only the BB can have 54o so they have a higher proportion of straights on this card. There's slightly more checking than betting and the big bet is used more than the small one.

Overarching strategy: Mix of all three options, but mainly big bet and check, unless the As which is small bet and check.

On the Ac specifically, all three options are available. Your exact combo of top set wants to check back here because you block a lot of the hands you want the Big Blind to continue with. But hands like JJ, 33 and 22 and your highest equity Ax hands (AK-A9 and A5/A4) want to bet big for value.

A lot of your 'nothing' type hands like 8h7h or QTo want to bet big as a bluff.

2. Overcard (King or Queen)

A King or Queen on the turn will be great for you: they're two of the higher equity cards for the in position player.

Overarching strategy: Big bet and check, unless K or Q of spades which is mainly small bet and check.

So you know that the overarching strategy on a King or Queen that isn't a spade is to bet big or check.

This is what makes this method so helpful. If the overarching strategy is big bet and check then all you need to work out is if your value hand is good enough to value bet for a big size.

KJo, on the whole, is definitely good enough to continue value betting here, but J9 and under is where you would start to check back.

You can value bet almost all of your Qx (top pair) hands now, plus overpairs and sets.

Combo draws are more likely to check than bet, but AsKs, AsTs, As5s and KsTs do all bet big at full frequency.

Flush draws mainly bet big, but some will check back like As9s, Ks8s and 9s7s. The better 8 out straight draws (KT) will bet most frequently whereas T9 will mix and 54s will always check.

3. Flush completer (any spade)

All options are available on a spade and it will depend on which specific spade that lands.

There is more betting on the higher equity spades and more checking on the lower ones. So the 9s (the highest equity spade for the in position player) only checks 23.8% of the time, bets small 52.3% and big 23.9%.

Whereas on the 3s (that also pairs the board) the CO should check 60.4% of the time, bet small 29.8% and bet big 9.8%.

Overarching strategy: Mainly small bet and check, but there is some big betting, especially on 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, Ts. Bet more the higher your equity.

Your overarching strategy on the 7s specifically is to check 35%, bet small 27.9% and bet big 37.1%.

With your exact combo, all 3 options are available, but you're mainly betting small (56.3%) or checking back (33.5%).

Value hands that want to bet big here are some flushes (others will bet small and check), a set of 3s and 2s (JJ and 77 will bet small), overpairs and the best top pairs.

4. Straight completer (4,5, or 6)

A 4, 5 or 6 are the worst cards for the CO as they complete a lot of straights and two pair. As such you should do a lot of checking and bet big when you do want to bet.

Overarching strategy: Mainly big bet or check, but some small betting on 5c and the 5s.

On the 6h you're looking to bet big or check.

You're going to want to find some unnatural bluffs from somewhere and T9o with the Ts specifically is a good one. You can get a lot of better hands to fold and can bluff some rivers too if you do get called. Other bluffs include combo draws (like Ks5s or 6s5s), flush draws and some 4 out straight draws.

Once again, as you know it's big bet and check, value betting should be straightforward: is the hand good enough to value bet for a big size?

So overpairs and your best Jx hands will bet big, as will a set of 2s and 3s.

Sometimes the hand is too good and blocks a lot of your opponent's continues, so hands like JJ will check back as will 66 sometimes. 88 and 77 can also bet big for value and protection.

5. Pair (J, 3 or 2)

I would expect a good BB player to lead the turn when the 2 or 3 pairs quite frequently, and less so on a Jack because they are more likely to check raise top pair on the flop. They're unlikely to check raise many 3x or 2x hands on the flop.

You should look to bet big or check on a Jack, and then all 3 options are available on a 2 or a 3.

Overarching strategy: Big bet or check on a Jack, all 3 options available on a 2 or a 3.

All three options are available here.

You'll need to use logic to work out the best approach with your exact hand:

  • Can you get better hands to fold?

  • Can you get worse hands to call?

  • Does checking keep in the worse hands that will fold if you bet?

KQs (all suits, including spades) wants to check back here 100% of the time because while you can get some better hands to fold and some worse hands to call, you're folding out a lot of worse hands too.

Quad 3s and 2s full should bet small, while Jacks can bet small or check. A3s bets small while K3s bets big. KK and QQ want to bet big for value while all 3 options are open to AA. AJ bets big, but there's a lot of checking with the other Jx hands especially J8s and under.

There is a lot of mixing with all draws.

6. Blank (7, 8, 9 or T)

I love to see blank turn cards because that usually means a big bet and check strategy, especially at sub 40bb where you spend most of your time in MTTs.

A 4, 5 and 6 all complete possible straights, so a blank would be a 7, 8, 9 or Ten that isn't a spade. The CO's equity is higher than on the low cards (2-6) and the betting frequency is slightly higher.

Overarching strategy: Big bet or check.

The 7c is a blank. It doesn't complete a straight or a flush or pair the board. As such, your overarching strategy is big bet or check.

So is 55 good enough to value bet for a big size?

It's very close. You can still get value from 3x of spades and 2x of clubs hands, together with combo draws and flush draws, whilst denying equity to straight draws that will have to fold, although you block 54 very heavily.

Your exact combo mixes between bet and check.

You can value bet most of your Jx hands, and start checking at J6. Overpairs can value bet as can a set of 7s, 3s and 2s. Be careful not to bet all of your draws on the turn though as you will have to fold quite frequently if you face a check/jam. This means checking back hands like Tc9c, 5s4s, AsKs and KcTc.


Grouping turn cards together makes it easier to understand the overarching strategy.

From there it's relatively straight forward to work out what your exact hand wants to do, especially if the overarching strategy is big bet and check.

I hope you can now approach studying and playing turns in position against the big blind in a much better way.

Good luck!


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